“Plastic bags are bad for the environment. Most are produced using oil, and, by some estimates, 90 percent end up dumped in a landfill or clogging up streams. But those free bags can also cost you money, even if you don’t use them. There are more and more proposals being drawn up at the local and state level to eliminate or place a tax on the bags.”
If you’re in Austin, this isn’t a new subject. In 2007 the Austin City Council asked its staff to evaluate options to reduce the use of plastic bags. Then in 2008 the Council passed a resolution and set the goal of reducing the flow of plastic bags into the waste stream by 50% by June 2009. At the request of retailers, the resolution relied mostly on a voluntary program. This was passed as an alternative to a plastic bag ban that was proposed by supporters of the Ban the Bags campaign. However, the voluntary program fell short of the 50% reduction goal, and retailers only recycled about 26% of the amount of plastic they purchased in 2008.
This year, the City of Brownsville became the first in Texas to pass an ordinance banning plastic bags. Wal-Mart and HEB stores in the Brownsville area supported the ban. Austin-based Whole Foods announced a complete ban on plastic bags in their stores. Last year, Natural Grocers, a small business with a branch in Austin, publicly announced that it ceased purchasing plastic bags for the sake of the environment and has saved around 13 million bags.
Texas Campaign for the Environment is helping Austinites urge City Council to take action and pass a ban on plastic bag this year. Involving the retailers to have input on the details is appropriate, but the time for voluntary efforts is over. But you should still recycle your plastic bags at grocery stores, and better yet, simply take reusable bags on your shopping trips. Here are more press reports on a potential plastic bag ban:
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